DMV’S Finest: Joe Gyau

Not Your Average Joe

Borussia Dortmund, US Men’s National Team, and DMV’S Finest Joe Gyau shares some fond memories of playing in the DMV, and sheds some light on his rehab progress

Joe Gyauby George Murphy

While current US Men’s National Team head coach Jurgen Klinnsman may, for some, be on the hot seat following his team’s failure to reach the Gold Cup Final on home turf this past summer, one thing is for sure: he has no problem giving younger guys a chance to shine.

The German-born head coach and all-time great striker has no problem giving younger players the chance to prove themselves at the International level, which has resulted in a deeper pool of players to select from. Want some examples? Just take a look at guys like DeAndre Yedlin, who is poised to feature for Tottenham this season, Gyasi Zardes, and a host of others.

DMV native Joe Gyau is no exception. The Borussia Dortmund II standout received his first full USMNT cap on September 3, 2014 against Czech Republic, 13 days before his 22nd birthday. He was able to showcase his speed, willingness to run at defenders, and all-around game which excited USMNT fans everywhere.

Gyau, who is from Silver Spring and grew up playing for the Bethesda Roadrunners, came through the US Youth National Team system, representing the Stars and Stripes at the u17, u20, and u23 age groups. He’s been playing in Europe since 2011, enjoying success at the youth level at German clubs 1899 Hoffenheim and FC St. Pauli, before making his move to Dortmund in 2014.

Not many young American players draw interest from a club like Dortmund. But for those who are familiar with the Gyau name in the DMV area, it’s not much of a surprise.

Joe’s Father, Philip

More Than Just a Soccer Dad

philip gyau

Philip Gyau during his time with the Maryland Bays

 

Joe’s father, Philip, is the current head coach of the Howard University Men’s Soccer Team. As a player, he made 6 caps for the United States Men’s National Team, between 1989 and 1991. Philip had stints playing for the Baltimore Blast, Washington Warthogs (for those fellow Warthog fans who can remember going to games at USAir Arena, or the Capitol Centre, whatever it was called back then), and a number of other clubs in between.

He transitioned into coaching in 1998, managing the US Men’s National Beach Soccer Team, Bullis High School Girls’ team, St John’s High School, and a number of other club teams. His successful coaching career has helped him develop 20 players who have represented the United States at the Youth National Team Level, and he was inducted into the Maryland Soccer Hall of Fame in 2007.

That all being said, it is obvious that Joe was exposed to higher-level soccer at an early age. He recalls memories from when his dad was coaching, which helped shape his career and work ethic at a young age.

“I would do soccer camps with my dad for 10 weeks in the summer, every day, from 9 to 5” says the Silver Spring native. “My dad was working camps all summer, so I was there all day. Then he would have clinics after camp, where I would train after. Some days, we would be out from 7 in the morning, and not come home until around 9-10pm. So we were touching the ball literally all day, every single day.”

At the youth level, while still playing in the DMV, Joe played for the Bethesda Roadrunners club team which challenged for National titles. He has some very fond memories of playing soccer in the the DMV area, and says that he still stays in contact with a number of his teammates and friends.

“We played against all of the Maryland teams. The guys I remember playing against the most are from MSC United, guys like Julio Arjona and Peabo Doue. I still stay in contact with my old Varsity teammate Rodney Wallace from the Timbers, Bill Hamid from DC United, Jalen Robinson. Paul Torres, who is currently playing in Norway, Dallas Sikes, who is in Luxembourg. And of course Lester Dewee, my best friend, who is currently playing in Sweden. All the guys.”

Joe also has fond memories of watching Maryland Terps and DC United games live, and of course, of watching his father on the pitch.

“When I was still living in MD, I always watched University of Maryland play, and we would also go to a lot of DC United games. My father was also playing in a Caribbean Mens’ League. Those games were the most fun to go to, just because I got to see my dad play! There were a lot of old Jamaican Internationals playing, old friends, and I remember the food was always good. The one guy I remember watching play when I was younger, though, was Isreal Sesay, we called him Issy. Man, that dude was a beast back in the day, he played for our older Bethesda team. And Chris Agorsor (who went on to University of Virginia), who was playing in the Baltimore area. He was definitely a force to be reckoned with as well.”

Joe’s DMV memories also extend off of the pitch, but he says that there is one thing in the DMV that he doesn’t miss that ALL of us can relate to.

“The main thing I miss when thinking about the DMV is my family and friends…just hangin’ at home, and being around my loved ones all the time. That’s what I miss the most. I come back to Silver Spring around twice a year, winter and summer. I miss the Chinese Food carry outs there, my Barber Shop, Sunday dinner at my grandmother’s house, pickup basketball, neighborhood football, and pickup soccer games of course, haha. I miss a lot of things. I don’t miss the traffic though, at all!”

Hard Work

How It’s Helping Joe Through Adversity

Joe Gyau rehab progress

Joe while in action for Dortmund, doing what he does best…terrorizing defenders.

There’s no doubt that Joe’s constant early exposure to the beautiful game, along with the strong work ethic and passion instilled in him by his father at a young age, has helped him to become one of the most promising young prospects in Klinnsman’s USMNT selection pool.

 

But having to look adversity square in the eye is something that every great athlete has to go through, and Joe is no different.
Joe Gyau vs Ecuador

Joe in his second USMNT cap vs Ecudor

Joe was able to impress Jurgen Klinnsman and the USMNT coaching staff enough during his first full cap that he started his second match, just over a month later. On October 10th, 2014, Joe started a friendly against Ecuador. After just 15 minutes, he had to be subbed off with what was initially thought to be a sprained knee.

However, it was later announced that Joe had torn his lateral meniscus, and was likely out for the 2014-2015 season for his club, Borussia Dortmund.

Recently, reports have been surfacing that Joe has been suffering setbacks during his rehabilitation. He was hoping to be ready for the 2015-2016 season, but rumors continue to surface that there is a chance that he could miss a big chunk, or possibly all, of this next campaign.

Joe was kind enough to let us in on how his rehab is going.

“Rehab has been going really well, I’ve actually recently arrived in Munich and I’m doing some work down here. Things are going well, and I’m always improving. Yes, it is true that I had some cartilage damage, so the surgeon had to do a transplant procedure. They extracted some of my existing cartilage, grew it in the lab, and then 3 weeks later put it back in the damaged spot. I’ve been doing work each and every day, which is tough sometimes, but it’s what has to be done for me to come back stronger. The facilities, physios, and doctors at Dortmund have been with me every step of the way. As for me being out for the whole season, that’s not true. I’m definitely going to be back much sooner than that. But I have to be patient, and keep working hard.”
Joe has confidence that, in the end, his work ethic and love for the game will prevail, and that this small bump in the road will make him a stronger player, and person.
“Personally, I’m not trying to rush back into anything and hurt myself again. I’m still young, and my main goal is to fully recover because I know that, once I do, I’m going to pick right back up where I left off.
Before this injury, I never really had to do the rehab components of life, I was just a pure athlete. Being given the chance to work with so many trained experts, I’m definitely going to come back stronger and faster.
This time away from being on the pitch has also given me a chance to study the game a bit more as well, and to train my mental state of mind. Believe it or not, the professional game is much more mental than a lot of people think, you have to be mentally strong and prepared if you want to play consistently at a high level, and very confident of your abilities. So I have definitely grown during this period, and can’t wait to see how it all translates on the pitch.”
Joe is able to lean on his family, club doctors and physios, coaches, and teammates when he’s in need of motivation. But when we asked him which players he watches and tries to model his game after, it’s obvious that he also looks to a couple of legendary forwards when seeking inspiration.
“I wouldn’t say that I try to model my game after anybody in particular, but I do have players that I’ve always looked up to. First, obviously, I’ve always looked up to my father, because he was a really direct forward.
I admire Maradona, he has so much passion for the game and he never gave up. Also, Ronaldo Lima. Those two guys are my all-time favorites, but Ronaldo has become more of my favorite lately, because he had 2 or 3 potentially career-ending injuries that could have seen him never player again. But he was never deterred by all of the outside talk and speculation whether he would ever be the same or not. He came back from each injury through hard work, and performed on a World Class level, so I admire his resilience. I also admire both players because they both had that one-on-one ability, and could leave players behind with speed, which is one of my main qualities.”
If you’re a fan of DMV soccer, it’s hard not to know the Gyau name. Joe and his father, up to this point, have been a model of what can happen if you work hard, and are passionate about soccer.

 

Yes, it helps to have world-class speed, and quality coaching at a young age. But there are examples of players, not just in soccer, but every sport, who give up and fold after an injury or other setback.

 

To be hearing things from such a young player like “I’m working on becoming stronger mentally”, and “I’m continuing to study and use this time to make myself a better all-around player”, in addition to Joe’s obvious knowledge of the game and respect for those who have come before him, should make all of us hopeful that he will return to the field a better all-around player, and get back to his old ways. A player who will return to the field at the International level, continue to make defenders worry about his next move, and make all of us in the DMV proud to call him one of our own.

 

Good luck Joe, and keep working hard!

 

A few notable photos from Joe’s Instagram account:

Amazing coach … Sad day. #ThanksKlopp #BVB

A post shared by Joe Gyau (@joegyau36) on


Being embraced by former BVB manager Jurgen Klopp

2009… Life changes quick.. Stay humble and don't forget who your fam is… #301 #240 #Rack

A post shared by Joe Gyau (@joegyau36) on


On the playground is where he spent most of his days


His father, Philip, in action for the USMNT

Late night gym session #Work 💪

A post shared by Joe Gyau (@joegyau36) on


Taking a selfie break<

#Throwback #TheBeginning #BVB

A post shared by Joe Gyau (@joegyau36) on


Coming on as a sub, alongside captain Mats Hummels

#Preach

A post shared by Joe Gyau (@joegyau36) on


A quote that gives him inspiration during his rehab process

DMV’s Finest: Maki Tall

A Tall Order

DC Native Maki Tall hopes to rehab from injury and suit up for USA in 2016 Olympics

Maki Tallby Tim Sitar

Not many soccer players in the history of the DMV are compared to Premier League legends, but there is a striker with a DMV connection making a name for himself in Europe who has drawn such comparisons.

That player is DC-born Maki Tall, a young and exciting 19 year-old forward who is already making a name for himself in Europe.

Tall left the region when he was just seven years old, but if he can have a big impact with his new Swiss Super League club- FC Sion- and go on to achieve his goal of representing the United States in next summer’s Olympic Games, there is no doubt that the soccer community in the DMV will proudly proclaim him as one of our own.

“Since I left DC when I was very young, I did not get many chances to play for local youth teams there.” says Tall, when asked if he has any DMV soccer memories worth sharing. “However, during my summer holidays, I did go play a few times with my dad at the Mall, around Constitution Avenue.”

Drawing comparisons to a legend

Tall is very well-traveled. In addition to DC, he has also lived in Cameroon, Senegal, Ivory Coast, and finally France, where Tall would draw comparisons to new Montreal Impact signee and Chelsea legend, Didier Drogba.

Maki says that he welcomes the comparisons, but also says he has a ways to go before they hold any weight.

Maki Tall Drogba comparisons

Didier Drogba after winning 2012 Champions League final, where he was MOTM

“I am honored, of course. But Drogba is unique. I have a long way to go before I can be compared to a great player like him. I think the reason why people compare me to him is because he trained at the same youth academy in Le Mans. My style is that of a fast and powerful striker. I am also sure-footed in front of the goal. Drogba at his prime was a master in all these areas. I hope to be close to that level some day.”

Some of Maki’s other favorite players include Ibrahimovic, Aguero and Teves. Not a bad attacking front 3.

Yank abroad: adjusting to life overseas

Tall developed into one of the most promising prospects at the academy of French League 2 side Le Mans. His on-field exploits dazzled club officials, as he led Le Mans in scoring at four different age groups (U15, U16, U17, and U19). But Tall had quite a few obstacles in his way as a youth player in a foreign country trying to prove himself.

“When I came to Le Mans, I was almost 14 years old. I had to adjust to the cold weather since I was coming from Cote D’Ivoire, and I had to learn tactically how the game was played in France. The physical intensity of the game is also something that I had to adjust to.”

Off the field, his everyday routine also wasn’t exactly that of a normal high school player.

“Language was not a barrier, since I already spoke French. But aside from my father coming to visit every month, I had no family around. We also trained twice a day, and still had to take normal classes.”

His success at Le Mans Academy led to a contract with Lille in 2013, and a four-month loan with third division French club Red Star last season. While his minutes were limited in his first two matches for Red Star, when he did get on the field, he was able to show some glimpses. He was involved in his team being awarded 2 penalty kicks after coming on as a substitute in a League Cup match.

⚽️💯🙌 #paris #nike

A post shared by Maki Tall (@makigoal) on

“All together I played in 4 games out of 12 for Red Star, but I missed most of the season because of National Team duty. I must say it was also difficult coming in at mid-season, in a team that was playing well and with a striker in top form (Kevin Lefaix was top scorer in the league). Still, it was a great experience training with very experienced players like (former Manchester United player) David Bellion every day.”

Proud to represent the Stars and Stripes

Tall spurned early offers from the French National team program. Later, he would suit up for FFF youth national teams, but the U.S. never left his mind. Perhaps his Christmas and summer vacations back to the DMV kept him grounded in the possibility of representing his land of birth.

“I go back to DC twice a year, when my schedule allows it. I am a big Wizards fan, and of course I do not miss any Redskins games on TV or through the internet. I have a permanent subscription to NFL and NBA League Pass, so I try to keep up with the Redskins and Wizards.”

“Hail to the Redskins!” Maki says on his Instagram account.

Representing the home town @johnwall @washwizards 💯💯#Playoffs #NBA #DC #Washingtondc

A post shared by Maki Tall (@makigoal) on

Maki wondering who would win in a foot race, him or John Wall.

His father, Madani, hoped to see his son in the red, white, and blue of the USMNT, rather than donning the kit of Les Bleus. His father’s hope became reality, at least at the U-20 level. U.S. U-20 head coach Tab Ramos called Maki into camp after the January qualifying tourney in Jamaica. When asked seeing his son step onto the pitch for the first time as a United States Youth National Team Player:

“I was very proud. The culture in America is that if you work hard, you will get your chance. Maki seized his chance when he was called up to join the U20 team, and it was a very great moment for all the family.”

1-0 vs Croatia #nike #usa #salzburg

A post shared by Maki Tall (@makigoal) on

The young and dynamic forward wasted little time adjusting to Ramos’ system, and found the back of the net two times in the team’s final four tune-up games before the U-20 World Cup.

Overcoming adversity

Tall would go on to start in the 2015 U-20 WC opener against hopeful minnow, Myanmar. Tall netted the first goal in the 2-1 win for the Yanks. Yet, his time on the international stage was as almost brief as his stay in the DMV.

The right-footer left the Myanmar game in the 49th minute, never to return to World Cup action after suffering a broken left big toe. We asked him how his rehabilitation process has been going.

“I am rehabbing very well. I should start running next week, and I hope to play my first game with FC Sion in early September, after a game or two with the reserve team in order to be in full shape.”

Tall hopes to feature for the reigning Swiss Cup champion, FC Sion, this season and continue to improve. If he finds playing time, there is no doubt that he will stay on Jurgen Klinnsman’s rader.

Will an early World Cup qualifying call-up and cap tying appearance be in Tall’s future?

“That is what every soccer player dreams about. There is a lot of talent in the various USA teams, from the full side to the different youth players coming through the ranks. It will take hard work and a little bit of luck to be part of the full USMNT. Before that, my focus is on the Olympics.”

A young, dynamic, and exciting USMNT prospect who has set goals for himself and is prepared to work hard on (and off) the field to make them a reality. If Maki is able to complete his injury rehabilitation process and make a name for himself in the Swiss league, his dream of representing the United States at the 2016 Summer Olympics, and of going on to represent the full United State’s Men’s National Team one day, may become a reality.

From everyone in the DMV, good luck Maki. Make us proud.

Dani Alves Reportedly Agrees to Terms With PSG

Dani Alves to PSG

The NFL isn’t the only football with big stars changing cities next season. Barcelona left back and Brazilian International Dani Alves will be headed to PSG this summer, according to reports out of Spain.

**UPDATE**

Dani Alves refuted Marca’s reports this morning on his Instagram account.

marca

alves IG

According to Google Translate:

You really believe in what they say? I’m a little tired of hearing sheep getting $h!it I love this club so experienced and so my left to live in but if one day I have to leave, I’ll have the same eggs he has done me get to the to tell and I do not need any sheep speak for me.

 

Maybe Manchester United fans, who have seen Antonio Valencia as Van Gaal’s preferred right back all season, have fresh hope of the Brazilian landing in England next season. They are also reported to be interested in Porto’s Danilo, who many believe is destined to be the next Real Madrid right back.

 

Marca.com reports:

Marca Radio has announced that Daniel Alves has a new team for next season. The lateral Still Barcelona already has an agreement with PSG, with whom he signed for three years at a rate of 9 million gross per season.

The Brazilian signed his contract this Tuesday. Alves took two days off that gave Luis Enrique after beating Ray and traveled to Paris to close the deal with the French team.

Thus, Alves, who will have six month contract at Barça, will leave Barcelona after seven years. In Paris he will join fellow Brazilians David Luiz, Marquinhos, Maxwell Thiago Silva.

Manchester United were reportedly hopeful of signing Alves, who will take his talents to Paris this summer if these reports are true.

If You’re Reading This, You Could Probably Have Scored vs Real Madrid Today

It’s been known for some time now that (Saint) Iker Casillas might be past his prime. He had a shaky Champions’ League final against Atletico Madrid last year, a less-than-stellar World Cup, and hasn’t exactly been convincing as Carlos Ancelotti’s number one all season. But after watching some of the goals that he gave up today- it pains me to say this as a Manchester United fan- but boy are the Madridistas going to love them some David De Gea next season.

It doesn’t make much sense. Iker Casillas is only 33 years old which, in goalkeeper years, is the equivalent of Brad Pitt during the Fight Club years.

Do You Even Lift, Bro?

Do You Even Lift, Bro?

Dude should be a stud.

He should be like Jesus Shuttlesworth in He Got Game, schooling old “I’ve been incarcerated, son” Denzel Washington in that last one on one game to send his grilled cheese-ironing, Jordan XIII wearing self back to prison.

Denzel Washington Jordan XII

Do You Have These in TF?

Instead of progressing with age like so many American goalkeepers have over the years (isn’t Brad Friedel still playing, somehow?), the once untouchable Madrid shot stopper who has won ___________ (insert award here, and I’m not kidding) seems destined for a move to QPR next season.

Here are the video highlights via ESPN FC.

Schalke goal number 1- not strong enough to keep it out of the back of the net, despite the shot being RIGHT at him. Just worth noting- the goal scorer, Christian Fuchs, is listed as a defender.

Schalke goal number 2- Max Meyer is supposed to be a World-Class talent, but to give up a rebound on his shot, and then to put the rebound into the middle of your box?

Yeah. My Bad.

Yeah. My Bad.

Schalke goal number 3- 57th minute – great shot, not much he could do. Khedira didn’t close down quick enough, but watch Ronaldo as well. Not sure if he could have closed down the angle quicker than that, but either way, Real Madrid’s back line and CDM was pretty bad.

Schalke goal number 4- Huntelaar the hunter, at his finest.

Klaas-Jan-Huntelaar-is-on-002

Is Ancelotti going to make a goalkeeper change so late in the season, especially one that (already very pi$$ed off) fans would likely not approve of? I doubt it. He better hope that Khedira gets match fit and does a better job protecting his back line over the next few weeks, because if Casillas ends up being that exposed in an AWAY Champions League match (lol @ this being at home), they’re in trouble.